PHOENIX -- Just how much spring training does a relief pitcher need before he's ready for the regular season?
The A's are about to find out. Ryan Cook, who has been out with shoulder discomfort, said over the weekend that he expects to be ready to start the season despite not having faced hitters yet this spring.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin would like to believe that's true, but he said Monday that the A's have to be prepared just in case Cook isn't ready come the March 31 opener against Cleveland at the Coliseum.
"It's going to be close to see if he's ready," Melvin said. "We're still holding out hope. It depends on how he does each and every time out."
The plan is for Cook to be tested in a bullpen session Thursday, throwing off a mound for the first time since feeling the discomfort in his right shoulder in the offseason. He likely would need a second session two to three days later, then he could face hitters sometime next week.
What would be about 6½ weeks of spring training work is being compressed into about three weeks, and the A's are not inclined to rush him. If Cook isn't good to go come March 31, the A's will turn to someone else until he is.
The good news for Oakland is that it has options. Luke Gregerson performed the same type of right-handed setup relief role in San Diego last year that Cook did in Oakland, going 6-8 with a 2.71 ERA. Cook was 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA.
Dan Otero might not throw with the same high-90s velocity as Cook, but the former Triple-A closer in Sacramento had a 1.38 ERA and just six walks in 39 innings last year
And Jesse Chavez and Evan Scribner, right-handers both, have had impressive springs to date.
He threw about half a dozen changeups and no cutters at all Monday in the A's 7-3 Cactus League win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Phoenix Muni.
He said the cutter, which was effective in 2012 when he made the jump to the big leagues, was less so last year. He said throwing it put pressure on his elbow and that, because it was "85 mph that didn't move," it was in part to blame for his league-worst 36 homers allowed.
"If I get the changeup going good again, I won't miss the cutter, and we can revisit it later," Griffin said. "In the minor leagues, it was like my bread and butter pitch. I could throw it any time, any count and be able to get a good strike."